Dear Brothers and Sisters,
If you live among the Other 96% — that portion of humanity that the U.S. government does not claim to represent, but where the U.S. military maintains some 1,000 major military bases, here are some helpful tips and past examples of success.
First of all, do everything you can to let people in the United States know how much they are paying financially for the bases in your country. While some of us in the United States primarily object to bases because of their use in creating and conducting campaigns of mass murder, many, including some who control U.S. media outlets, find the topic of financial cost far more acceptable.
One of those many is a rather insignificant and dimwitted member of the U.S. population who nonetheless matters because he is the president of the country. We want to encourage him to demand of your country higher and higher fees for the “benefit” of being “served” by your occupation by the U.S. bases that endanger your lives and pollute your water. And then we want to encourage your government to reply with a hearty “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”
Secondly, make sure that every liberal militarist in the United States understands, and that everyone in your country understands the motivation for the bases. It is not to colonize or to extract resources. It is not to be close to areas of the world where wars are likely to spontaneously erupt and require U.S. participation for the good of us all. The United States can fly its instruments of death to anywhere on earth quite rapidly from the U.S. mainland, not to mention actual U.S. colonies. The reason for keeping bases on your land is that you are, in the eyes of the U.S. government, inferior creatures incapable of properly determining your own fate. So, the superior and whiter and more divinely favored U.S. government has a duty to dominate everyone else, and that includes you. Remember that U.S. liberals like to think they aren’t bigoted, so you’ll have to explain this to them several times.
Third, study the examples of what has worked before.
Austria in 1955 created a Constitutional ban on foreign bases, removed Soviet and all other foreign bases and troops
Farmers in Japan prevented the construction of a U.S. base in 1957.
In 1963, the U.S. departed from bases in Trinidad and Tobago.
In 1963 and 1977, the United States left its bases in Morocco.
In 1967, France evicted U.S. troops from all bases.
In 1969, the Ogasawara Islands were returned to Japan.
In 1970, the U.S. departed from its base in Libya.
The people of Puerto Rico kicked the U.S. Navy out of Culebra in 1974, and after years of effort, out of Vieques in 2003.
In 1975, the U.S. departed from at least four air bases in Thailand.
A U.S. Army base in Eritrea closed in 1977.
Native Americans evicted a Canadian military base from their land in 2013.
People of the Marshall Islands shortened a U.S. base lease in 1983.
The people of the Philippines kicked out all U.S. bases in 1992 (though the U.S. later returned).
The U.S. left an air base in Zaragosa, Spain, in 1992.
A women’s peace camp helped get U.S. missiles out of England in 1993.
U.S. bases left Midway Island in 1993 and Bermuda in 1995.
Hawaiians won back an island in 2003.
In 2007 localities in the Czech Republic held referenda that matched national opinion polls and demonstrations; their opposition moved their government to refuse to host a U.S. base.
Saudi Arabia closed its U.S. bases in 2003 (later reopened), as did Uzbekistan in 2005, Kyrgyzstan in 2009.
The U.S. military decided it had done enough damage to Johnston/Kalama Atoll in 2004.
Activists compelled the United States to give up a firing range in South Korea in 2005.
Activism in Vicenza, Italy, (and around Italy and Europe and in Washington, D.C.) between 2005 and 2010 resulted in the United States getting only 50% of the land it wanted for its new bases.
In 2007, the President of Ecuador answered public demand, and exposed hypocrisy, by announcing that the United States would need to host an Ecuadorean base in Miami, Florida, or shut down its base in Ecuador.
In 2010, bases were blocked by the Colombian Supreme Court.
Iraq closed bases in 2011, reopened in 2013.
As ever so slightly touched on in the preceding list, there have been a great many partial and short-live successes. We need to study what has worked most often and most lastingly.
At World BEYOND War we are putting a major focus on this effort, and have helped to start up a D.C. insider coalition called Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition, drawing heavily on the work of David Vine and his book Base Nation. We’ve also been part of launching a global activist coalition to educate and mobilize people for the closure of U.S. and NATO military bases. This effort has produced a conference in Baltimore, Md., in January 2018, and one in Dublin, Ireland, in November 2018.
Some of the angles finding traction and being shared around the world are environmental. U.S. bases are poisoning ground water, not just all over the United States, where the Pentagon is seeking to legalize such practices, but all over the world, where it needn’t bother.
The reasons the Pentagon needn’t bother legalizing destruction abroad ultimately depend on the last remaining widely accepted bigotry in U.S. culture, namely that against every non-U.S. culture. When the world figures that out, and when the people of the United States figure that out, who knows what could happen.
David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War